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Turning Off the Lights: Consumers’ Environmental Efforts Depend on Visible Efforts of Firms

Journal of Marketing Research, 2017, 54 (3), 478-494.

17 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2016 Last revised: 29 Jul 2017

Wenbo Wang

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Brent McFerran

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business

Date Written: June 7, 2017

Abstract

Firms can save considerable money if consumers conserve resources (e.g., if hotel patrons turn off the lights when leaving the room, restaurants patrons use fewer paper napkins, or airline passengers clean up after themselves). In two studies conducted in real-world hotels, the authors show that consumers’ conservation behavior is affected by the extent to which consumers perceive the firm as being green. Furthermore, consumer perceptions of firms’ greenness and consumer conservation behavior depend on (a) whether the firm requests them to conserve resources, (b) the firm’s own commitment to the environment, and (c) the firm’s price image. Additionally, firm requests to consumers to save resources can create consumer reactance and can backfire when firms themselves do not engage in visible costly environmental efforts. Such reactance is more likely for firms with a high price image. Finally, the authors show that by spending a little money to signal environmental commitment, firms can save even more money through consumers’ conservation of resources, resulting in wins for the firm, the consumer, and the environment.

Keywords: sustainability, green marketing, corporate social responsibility, field experiment

JEL Classification: M31, C93, Q01

Suggested Citation

Wang, Wenbo and Krishna, Aradhna and McFerran, Brent, Turning Off the Lights: Consumers’ Environmental Efforts Depend on Visible Efforts of Firms (June 7, 2017). Journal of Marketing Research, 2017, 54 (3), 478-494.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2837711

Wenbo Wang (Contact Author)

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology ( email )

Department of Marketing
Clear Water Bay, Kowloon
Hong Kong

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Brent McFerran

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Colombia V5A 1S6
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://beedie.sfu.ca/profiles/BrentMcFerran

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